Earlier this year, lawmakers in New York proposed a bill that would bar people convicted of multiple sex offenses from ever using New York City’s subway system again. The plan, which would inflict a form of banishment in the name of public safety, is part of a broader pattern. Sex offender registries increasingly include children under the age of 18, and some states permit children as young as 7 to be registered. But a growing body of evidence suggests that our reliance on registries—not just for sex crimes but also for terrorism, gun, and drug offenses—may allow politicians to look like they’re taking action while actually doing little to curb abuse.
To discuss the rise of registries, we are joined by Appeal contributor Guy Hamilton-Smith and Elizabeth Letourneau, professor and director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.